No Free Lunches To No Lunch No Reform

The Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has forfeited the trust of the people of India. Immediately after entering the office of the Prime Minister he announced boldly that there are no free lunches. He promised reforms and especially targeted reduction in all kinds of subsidies in the name of economic growth. In the tenth year of being in office, his economic policies have brought about a situation where there are no lunches at all. Every single essential commodity has gone out of the reach of the majority of Indians. Food is very costly. Prices have gone through the roof. Shortages have been experienced in most commodities, which indicates criminal mismanagement of demand and supply chain. The sham reforms have brought the economy in general to such a pass that all kinds of elements are regulating it in their own way leaving the government to watch loot of public assets openly.  To what extent the government has been outsourced can be gauged by the letter written by the Coal Secretary to the Government of India on 22 March 2005 to the Cabinet secretary, which has appeared in the media today the 25th October 2013. He wrote in detail how the coal mafia exists in the ministry, Coal India  (PSU) and trade unions. The Coal ministry at that time was under a minister from the Alliance Partners supporting the UPA-I government led by Manmohan Singh. There can be nothing more foolproof than that letter- neither the CBI nor the judiciary could never pronounce so succinctly, so boldly and in a written communication than the letter from the highest civil servant heading the ministry addressed to the highest civil servant in the country, who had to place it before the prime minister, as it came in reply to the letter written by the minister, who had written to the PM to change his secretary. The fact of the matter is that it was not an isolated instance of the mafia rule, but in almost every wing of the government it was extra-constitutional authority in power, call it mafia raj or inspector raj or simply corruption raj. Raform was simply a slogan to pull the wool on the eyes of the people. The rule of the UPA I & II will go down in the history of India as the worst period or the Golden Period Of Corruption.

Subsidies are conceived as mechanisms of “mass bribing”. But playing with demand and supply is facilitating “mass loot”. The pinnacle of this loot has been reached by onion prices which have registered the unique record of 100 rupees a kilogram today. It has dominated news and views on almost every television channel and newspapers. Public anger has termed it The Onion Republic.

Onions are a symbol of crass poverty for the socialists. It symbolizes Indian socialism. As adolescents we used to hear our socialist leaders proudly announcing their resolve to serve the people by eating simple food consisting of dry roti (bread without butter) with onions. Those above the socialist class would express contentment if they could get roti and daal (bread and legumes or lentils). Now both daal and onions are luxuries, meant for the rich and simply out of the reach of all socialist party sympathizers. The socialists have forgotten the suffering of the sympathizers. The socialist leaders have become multi-millionaires, though how is not known to the people or the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), who was asked to investigate whether the accruals were by fair means or foul deeds. This is done by matching the legitimate incomes with the wealth and other assets of the person, which may attract the penalties for corruption if found to be disproportionate to the known sources of income. The CBI has pronounced nothing unlawful. So our socialists are lawful wealthy and capitalists (owners of capital, one of the scarce resource commanding all kinds of concessions as for FDI). Food grains are so costly that the government is happy to declare 67% Indians eligible for cheap food grains @ rupee 1 or 3 per kg under the new law on the subject. It seems to be some new economic theory of the neo-liberals to fool the people by selling food grains at a rupee a kilo and garner hundred times more money by selling essentials like onions at 100 rupees a kilo. Again, it is the mafia regulating prices and supplies of all agricultural products, onions, tomato and potato being the common symbols of the staple of average Indian. In the name of economics and reforms they can do anything. Specialists are of the view that this will distort prices of wheat and rice domestically as well as globally. Shortages of food grains is likely to be experienced if the scheme is mismanaged, as was done to the PDS (Public Distribution Scheme). Destabilizing the food economy is bound to affect food sovereignty and ultimately food justice.

The Prime Minister can claim credit for one reform: that is to demolish the last symbol of socialism. India has been under the charm of the word “socialism/socialist” from the time of Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru enjoyed the reputation of being a socialist. Dr. Manmohan Singh had declared his cabinet better than Nehru’s cabinet a few years ago. In that sense Dr. Manmohan Singh’s cabinet can be considered better than Nehru’s- it has drastically reduced subsidies (cooking gas cylinder prices have been trebled in less than 9 years).and made lunches so costly that they have simply disappeared from the thaali ( plate) of the majority of Indians. Education and health care, made available by the government under Nehru have been made costly by vacating the public services and handing over the space to private operators. The private sector has used public sector infrastructure and professions by luring them with attractive pay packages, which are all charged to the user public. The ruling economist group calls it market forces: the socialist approach of Nehru to regulate the market has been replaced with laissez faire of MM Singh, leading to deterioration in services and high prices. The mass loot is shared by the politician-bureaucrat-business nexus. Routing socialism has increased the acceptability of capitalism and neo-liberalism. Socialism being deep rooted in the Indian psyche will take longer  to disappear, because Indira Gandhi even amended the preamble to the Constitution of India to introduce the word “socialist” before republic (sovereign democratic socialist republic). The word must have been repeated scores of times in the capsule that Indira Gandhi got buried in her life time for the benefit of the future generations, forgetting that Time is dynamic and ever changing and future generation might change it for liberalism or something else.

In their euphoria of demolishing the symbol of socialism, the government of India has gone to an extent which has created a political joke of a kind- it has decided to import onions from China. India had imported socialism, Marxism and Maoism from China.  These imports dragged the country down by several decades. People might hate Rajiv Gandhi as much as they wish, but the fact remains that he definitely took concrete steps to march India in to the 21st Century. But for Rajiv Gandhi, India would have remained far behind other big countries in the comity of nations. Today the nation’s confidence level is very high. Had Manmohan Singh not wasted these 9 years in superficial economic policies that have led only to scams of historical proportions, and taken the reforms launched by Rajiv Gandhi, the country would have already joined the select club of the super powers. But reforms under the present dispensation means only policies to sell out cheaply all public assets, destroy the institutions of public service like schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, highways, hotels, airlines etc and compel people to buy all goods and services from the market. It doesn’t affect these policy makers, who are all getting fat pensions from World Bank/IMF etc and living like the Mughal Emperors or the Viceroys of India. How will  the Chinese onions affect political thinking of our politicians will be known later only.

In a nut shell, reforms introduced by Manmohan Singh would mean Americanism for the Ruling dispensation and China for the common man!  Market economy for the rich and centralized economy for the poor!


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